Tony’s tried-and-true playbook for change, and a fairer chocolate supply chain.
At Tony’s we want to ensure that fair play is here to stay. So we developed 5 Sourcing Principles to establish more equal business relationships with our suppliers in West Africa. Our rules for fairer chocolate: we only use traceable cocoa beans, we always pay a higher price, we invest in strong farmers, we nurture long-term relationships, and we stay committed to quality and productivity. But no principle is principal.. all 5 must be applied together in order to ensure lasting change.
The strategy starts with us, but we want to see change across the industry as a whole. That’s why we share our 5 Sourcing Principles via Tony's Open Chain initiative – so chocolate players big and small can make fair play their standard.
Traceable cocoa beans By which we mean: don’t buy beans from anonymous heaps. Because there’s a good chance those beans were farmed by people forced into illegal child labor or even modern slavery. We strive instead to trade directly with cocoa farmers and cooperatives. To know who’s producing our beans, which farms they’re from, and how they perform on the social and environmental scorecards. But it doesn’t stop with the stats of our Beantracker! From here we can identity issues and take steps to remediate.
A higher price If labor’s so valuable, then a product’s price should reflect that, right? We definitely think so. That’s why we pay prices for our cocoa that enable farmer households to earn a living income and run healthy farms. This in line with our Living Income Model.
The current market price in the cocoa industry makes earning a living income impossible without industry intervention – and that’s including a certification premium. It’s on us chocolate makers to foot the bill until the market price climbs high enough to make a living income the big-league standard. For everyone.
The name of the game here is professionalization. On farming cooperatives, that means making the work of cocoa farming safe and sustainable. That way farmers can stand strong, better equipped to structurally change and correct inequality in the value chain.
Fair chocolate’s the only onside way to play. That means we commit to at least 5 years of sales at a higher price with each of our partner cooperatives. This ensures income security and enables our partners to make better financial decisions when investing or recouping costs.
Quality and productivity
At Tony’s we always strive to do better and learn more, with a fairer industry as our winning goal. That’s why we also invest in current agricultural knowledge, skills, and innovation when it comes to growing cocoa and other crops. Sustainable practices such as composting help to reduce waste and carbon footprints, for example. And healthier farms produce higher yields, cutting back the need to encroach into forests. Professionalized farming facilitates increased quality and productivity, so that our existing farmer partners can always secure the win.
Illegal child labor and modern slavery are the chocolate industry’s bitter truth. But together we can ensure a fairer playing field for farmers and their communities, changing the industry from within.